What is Non-Electric Traction System? – Types, Advantages and Disadvantages

A non-electric traction system is a type of traction system that does not use electrical energy for the movement of a vehicle at any stage.

Types of Non-Electric Traction System

The most popular non-electric traction systems are −

  • Steam Engine Drive

  • Internal Combustion (IC) Engine Drive or Diesel Engine Drive

In this article, we will highlight the advantages and disadvantages of using these two types of non-electric traction system.

Steam Engine Drive

In the steam engine drives, the reciprocating steam engine is used for getting the required motive power. The steam engine drive is not used in these days due to various reasons. However, it is still employed for traction work in underdeveloped countries.

Advantages of Steam Engine Drive

The advantages of steam engine drive based traction system include the following −

  • Steam engine drives are simple in design.

  • The maintenance of steam engine drives is easy and less costly.

  • Steam engine drives provide easy speed control.

  • Steam engine drives do not have interference with neighboring communication lines.

  • The capital cost of steam engine drives is low. As these do not require track electrification.

  • In case of steam engine drives, there is simplicity of connections between the cylinders and the driving wheels.

  • In case of steam engine drives, the locomotive and train unit is self-contained. Hence, it is not tied to a route.

  • This type of traction system is cheap for low density traffic areas.

Disadvantages of Steam Engine Drive

Due to the following disadvantages the steam engine drive based traction systems are replaced by other types of traction systems −

  • Steam engine drive system has low thermal efficiency.

  • In steam engine drive system, due to unbalanced reciprocating parts there is a considerable wear and tear on the track.

  • The power to weight ratio of steam engine locomotive is low due to low adhesion coefficient.

  • Steam engine locomotives have limited overload capacity.

  • As the steam engine locomotive requires time for raising of steam, thus it cannot be put into service at any instant.

  • The speed of steam engine locomotive is limited due to high center of gravity.

  • Steam engine locomotives need more repair and maintenance

  • Steam engine locomotive service is not clean due to presence of coal dust and ash, etc.

Internal Combustion Engine Drive or Diesel Engine Drive

The drive which uses an internal combustion (IC) engine or a diesel engine for getting the necessary motive power. The internal combustion engine drive is widely used in railway work. When IC engine drive operating at normal speed, it has an efficiency of about 25%.

Advantages of I.C. Engine Drive

The chief advantages of the internal combustion engine drive are as follows −

  • The initial cost of installing diesel engine drive is low.

  • As it is a self-contained unit, it is not tied to any route.

  • The internal combustion engine locomotive can run on different track conditions.

  • IC engine locomotive has higher efficiency than steam locomotive.

  • In case of internal combustion engine locomotive, the braking system used is simple.

  • IC engine drive has simple and easy speed control.

Disadvantages of I.C. Engine Drive

The disadvantages of I.C. engine drive include the following −

  • Diesel engine locomotives have limited overload capacity.

  • In our country, oil is to be imported which is not good for economy.

  • For I.C. engine locomotives, the operating and maintenance costs are high.

  • It needs a gear box for speed control.

  • In case of diesel engine drive, the life of propulsive equipment is very short.